“You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it.”- Training regime

Coming from a sport background didn’t really help me to know what to do with my running sessions. I definitely needed some guidance on how to improve and put the right programme out there. I have improved my running in 2 years quite well starting at 32minutes and being down to sub 20 (all with a dog). However now it is the time that I will work harder and get the right training. I have signed for Canicross Robinson Online Programme Coaching. If you ever wonder how it looks like and what mentally you go through here is my adventure over 6 weeks.

Week 1

I haven’t felt so excited about running in some time! Actually felt like back to those days where I want or needed to train every day. Ben discussed with me my goals and what I have been doing so far. He really tried to understand my idea of running. Week 0 we have done some testing (I had no clue what results they brought, but nevermind!) Finally my week 1 landed in my inbox. Super excited to see only one day rest! Training session really varied from what I have done before, so I was even more excited. I have hit all the sessions no problem but felt thankful for my recovery run session on Sunday. I also managed to discover that I use a lot of my shoulders during running (they are so sore). Week 1 accomplished without any problems, just feeling a bit tired which means I worked hard.

Week 2

I have made mistake this week and decided to do a session in the afternoon after work. Oh, never ever again. So many dog walkers out there and all those dogs that wanted to join me and dogs running around the park. I will defo stick to morning sessions. This week was a struggle, my legs felt tired and my body felt not well. I didn’t have a rest day in the programme, just recovery runs, which I am loving now. I am glad this week has passed now.

Week 3

Week 3 was way easier than before, I felt shit during sessions, but afterward, it looked like my runs are getting stronger and better. A week has been going better than last week, I can feel stronger, but my body suffers every week. Noone said it will be easy right. My recovery runs feel great and legs aren’t feeling like stones anymore. My running buddies are brilliant every time.

Week 4

Week 4 was tough, I was away for a business trip, which means training without dogs- my best running buddies. Ben planned session so I could fit it with my travels. Saturday canicross was mentally tough, as my legs were very tired. Overall I thought this week will be tougher than it actually was. I survived! Looking forward to next week already.

Week 5

It is already over a month I am doing the training, I feel the legs are stronger, splits shows I am getting a bit faster, but I don’t feel like it. This week is a race week, so training programme has been adjusted so I have some rest prior… To finish up the week 5 Laferra and I had fantastic run at SDAS Ford races. Two very consistent runs. Super happy.

Week 6

Halfway through the programme and I really managed to surprise myself this week as I could feel that I am getting stronger as sessions feel like I am doing better and more. I also manage to do 2 hilly loops instead of only one, and still feel strong and breath in! (yes I pushed and work hard). Never thought I will look forward as much to my recovery runs.

 

I always run around, but this tailored programme really builds my strength not only in body but also in my head! I never ever thought I will go out there in the morning and do hills runs! The whole morning training keeps me buzzing for the day but also it makes my dogs very happy as they run with me, and pretty much do the same training! 🙂 well makes them snoring dogs.

 

Happy traning everyone. If you missed my post about early starts have a read here.

Bark + Ride event

What can be better than a nice 15 degrees and a sunny day? This weekend I have decided to make the dogs just to be dogs. Last year I did a bit MTB with Laferra off lead and she loved it, so since the weather is spot on we were back.

Bark and ride Buddies at Carron Valley

My dear friend organizes events for humans and their dogs. She promotes MTB with trail dogs. Here’s description:

Come and join us for a fun morning at Carron Valley mountain bike trails! Whether your used to taking your dog with you out on the bike or whether you’ve never taken them before this is the ride for you! Reasonable level of fitness required. This is a fun event not a competition and our aim is to grow a community of #barkandridebuddies to share the fun of mountain biking and the love of dogs together! We will be doing a mini loop of the flatter trails around the forest to get the dogs used to running alongside the bikes. After that we will be doing to 9km loop of the red trails around Carron Valley with the option of doing the adrenaline rushing Orange run at the end with lots of fun berms, table tops and little jumps. Everything is rideable and you are in control of your own ride. Adventures are for sharing so take some pics and share your photos with us here on the page to be in with a chance of winning some goodies!!
Bring your helmet, a lead some water for you and your dog and what you would normally take with you when out with your dog. A towel is advisable if it’s wet.
See you there!

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Ride itself

I did MTB with Laferra before but never in the group, as I am always worried she can get loose from me and start to panic. I prepared myself and had my whistle with me and make sure I was keeping an eye on her. I put a bell on her so I could hear her too. Totally didn’t know what to expect from the ride.

We have arrived at the Carron Valley, I like this place, as it is usually very quiet and trails are just great for my abilities. I saw some dogs at the car park already, so I let Laferra just go and say hi if she wanted. At first she wasn’t really sure.

However, eventually she went out there said hi and came back with a happy face. I knew it will be a good day and she will love it.

Mini loop

We are off for a short loop of 4-5km. Laferra loves it and keeps checking in to make sure we both know where we are. I am super chuffed and even managed to have relaxed chats with other riders. It is great to hear why people want to do this. Laferra was really good in a group, very aware of the bikes which make riders life easy and not worry that they will ride over her 😀

We are back from the mini loop as this one was just warm up for us, but for younger dogs, it was a great introduction to trails and bikes.

Longer loop

We are off again, time for a bit harder uphills and faster downhill. Laferra is just brilliant, she waits for me on uphills and sticks in front or behind on downhills. I am super chuffed with her, she is having a blast. She went off to woods for a wee adventures during stops, but she kept most of the time with the rest of the dogs. What a fantastic way to spend time with your dog.

Few pointers

If you are planning to attend these great events, please bare that in mind:

  • your dog is good with recall
  • your dog is aware of the bike (it is group ride so your dog cant just run into others riders wheels)
  • your dog is fit enough
  • you cant show off your fast mtb skills 🙂
  • be aware of other dogs too
  • be aware of other riders on the trails not with the group

I loved it, Laferra had blast with other dogs and she really proved she is great trails dog. We had awesome fun and I would defo recommend this kind of meet up group for you and your dog.

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Why am I so motivated to start my day so early in the morning?

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As you may know, I am not a big fan of running and in past, I really used to hate it. However recently things changed and I am more into it, even train every day. A few folks asked me how do I do it that I am so motivated to wake up early and just go out there in the dark and do my training. So here are my thoughts on that:

Why early morning

I am an individual that likes to be on her own, a lot of people make me tired 🙂 Recently also a lot of people started asking me how I trained my dogs that they are so well behaved. During training I don’t have time for chatting, I like to go out there and smash my training in 30min! Early morning it is usually me and the dogs, which means I can totally focus on training and don’t need to shout after Laferra to not approach other dogs and of course no people keen for chat. Easy life for everyone: I can run, dogs can run!

Stunning morning

Usually, in the morning I can see the sunrise, which in Scotland is just stunning.

Food fuel

In the morning I can also feel I can go quickly do the training without worrying about food, I can just fuel my body straight after the run and during the day at work. I am always worried to get a stitch if I run after work due to that when I finish work I am hungry for light dinner already. The only minus of this is that if you work hard (most of the time for me) you will get a headache after a good training session and you feel like you can eat the whole fridge 😀

Consistent morning and increases discipline

I am always up early in the morning even at the weekends, so keeping the consistency in waking up makes it easy for the whole week. Also, it means training is done and nothing interrupted it as it the is always the same time. If I decided to do it in the afternoon, my workout time frequently ends up at the bottom of my to-do list and by day’s end, I might not even do it. So I rather hit the trails first thing in the morning and I am able to enjoy it and be fully focused on training. This also means I have a free evening and can spend it on catching up on tv shows or reading books.

Metabolism

I have noticed that morning start helps keep metabolism elevated for hours. Why not get your engines running as soon as possible- the earliest the better hehe?! In this way, my increased metabolism will be working — and burning more calories — while I am, instead of when my body is at rest. If you are like many people who sit at a desk all day, you know that this is reason enough to train in the morning.

Clears your mind

We all know that training really helps clear our head and put us in a healthy mindset. According to literature training before your day officially begins allows you to start each day with a fresh perspective as you destroy the stresses of the previous day with a run on the trails. It would help you to decrease the chance to become stressed or upset during the day. Of course, it also depends on individuals but it defo works for me.

Energy for the day

Early morning… yes it is hard to move from nice and cozy bed when it rains outside. The weather and accumulated fatigue can make you feel a bit lazy, however, if I go out and do the training first thing in the morning I am buzzing for the day. Doing so will release endorphins and other hormones to give you a much-appreciated boost that often lasts all day. In other words, it’ll give you the required energy to work all day and party all night if you desire.

 Sleep better and increase mental awareness

I have noticed that I feel more alert and ready to take on whatever challenge or curveball life throws my way after a good workout. I am ready for the day. As my body learns the pattern I started to sleep very well too. My sleeping patterns are consistent and I feel like I am resting/recovering much better and quicker.

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So stay focused and disciplined yourself! Get your “ass” out of bed early morning and enjoy the rest of the day. Happy training.

 

 

 

Hiking with dogs

Summer approaches (well maybe not here in the UK). This is the time of the year that we all go more often hiking with our dogs. Here are some rules and information you should remember before planning your hiking.

Right trails

Make sure you look at nice trails that are suitable for your doggies such as soft and not with many cliffs around, so dogs can be off lead all the time. Depending on how fit you and your dogs are, check how steep and how many drops there are on the route. If it is nice sunny day check if there are any water stops for dogs to cool down.

You and your dog

Make sure if you choose the trails that are suitable for both of you! Check if your dog is fit to actually go for a long adventure. Your vet will be able to advise you. Also, don’t feed a massive meal before hiking too.

Check rules and regulations

Check your local rules and regulations, as for example in Scotland dogs must be always on a lead during lambing.

  • During the breeding season (usually April-July) keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel in areas such as moorland, forests, grasslands, loch shores and the sea shore to avoid disturbing birds that nest on or near the ground.

After hiking check your dog

  • Eyes – check for grass seeds.
  • Ears – check for mites and other foreign objects.
  • Paws – check for cuts on the pads, also grass seeds and ticks.
  • Tail – foreign objects caught in fur.
  • “Armpits” – check here for burrs and twigs getting caught as your dog will love to charge through the undergrowth. If these are left to bed in they will be incredibly uncomfortable and more difficult to spot later and could result in a costly trip to the vets to have them removed.
  • Mouth – check for abrasions around the mouth, and cuts on gums etc. Try not the play “fetch” with pieces of fallen branches as they can cause untold damage to the throat and/or mouth.
  • Body-  check overall for ticks.

Items to take along with you

So it is important you pack everything for your hiking adventure, I put a list together what I always have with me:

  • treats- high quality treats to reward and encourage good behavior.
  • favorite toy- we always find time to play and have some fun.
  • doggies first aid kit- cuts and strains could happen so be prepared.
  • spare collars and leads
  • poo bags- always clean waste
  • whistle- to call them back
  • animal-friendly wipes
  • water bottle and collapsible drinking bowl

 

Enjoy your adventures with dogs and stay safe.

 

Canine warm-up workshop- why bother with warming up our dogs.

No automatic alt text available.Another busy day for Laferra and I. This time we attended a canine warm-up workshop with Lisa Cleeton, who is known well in Edinburgh area as a Veterinary Physiotherapist. I was really looking forward to it, to learn a bit more for warm-up but also once again put Laferra in a new situation with other dogs and people around and make her only focus on me so I could focus on her muscles.

 

Muscles

When you think about warm-up for the dog, think about warm-up for yourself. It is an exactly same thing: your body needs to warm up too if you are planning to walk. In general it is good to start warm-up your dog with at least 10min walk on a lead. Depends what sport you are doing there are different things to do, but for us for canicross time to focus on every single muscle. Lisa talked us through every single muscle for running, and I didn’t even know that Laferra has so many muscles. Eventually, when we will become the pro it will take us around 5 minutes, to warm-up all the muscles. We started from the muscles on her head and neck, you would never think that dog uses his head a lot for running right? I was surprised as I rub my dogs muscles before runs, but never thought that the neck and head or even a spine muscles ones are important too. Interesteing point was about ribs muscles! Now I will be checking those muscles, as if they feel a bit harder, that means dog needs rest as it worked hard (for example: day after race or any competition).

Why do the warm- up?

Pretty much it helps to warm-up not just muscles but also ligaments, tendons and muscles.

  • Ligaments: if they lengthen- they are damaged!
  • Tendons are more prone to rupture if a muscle has a spasm in it.
  • Muscles in spasm are “trapped” in contraction.

Lisa talked us why we really should do warm-up, mainly to avoid:

  • muscle tears
  • tendon strains or ruptures
  • ligament sprains
  • lengthen stride length
  • improve performance

Sometime ago I started doing a walk before races around for dogs to be able to do the toilet and then just rub their muscles on front and back legs. Every time I did it, Laferra’s performed much better.

What’s the best warm-up

Better do something than nothing at all. Usually, at least 5-10 minutes walk on a lead, even if you are just planning to let your dog off lead in woods. As the dogs get mostly injured while on that silly walks, running around. In our case, after walk, it is good to rub their muscles. Lisa talked us through all the important muscles on the dogs, simple rub would take even just 5 min. Sometimes we just stand to wait for our start time around that time, it looks like perfect time, to start rub those muscles just before the start. Not just the legs ones, but also the one on the neck, spine or even ribs muscles. Lisa also showed us how to stretch the dogs, but I could probably do that during the training, just too much distraction and hyper dogs around during races. I would keep stretching after runs, as the muscles must be warm-up first for it.

What does warming up means?

  • It brings more blood into the muscles.
  • This preps them ready for action.
  • Ensures joints are ready to move throughout their full range.

Summary

Even a silly walk and running around could injury your dogs. I will definitely find at least 20 minutes before each training and race for making sure my dogs are ready to perform. It is the same idea as us humans getting warm-up for any activities, you need to make sure the blood is there!

If you wanna learn your dogs’ muscles, I would defo recommend go and see sports physio. Lisa showed a lot of muscles that I didn’t even think they are there! (that sausage muscles on front legs! :)) and it looks like Laferra has more muscles than I thought she had.

Overall another great experience for Lafie, to be around the dogs, and other people. She allowed Lisa to touch her and was a really good example of a dog. Once again I know she is great for going with me to any workshops to help me develop better knowledge. We will be back to Lisa in June for some checks before our big races at TDM in French Alps in August. For now, we are practising rubbing all the muscles! Both dogs love it.

Refrences: Lisa Cleeton.